Strike! No Chance for a Spare



The oldest and fanciest bowling alley in Memphis is scheduled to be demolished and replaced with a strip shopping center.

Imperial Lanes opened in 1958 at 4700 Summer. Along with its sister center, Cherokee Lanes on Lamar, it offered bowlers considerably more upscale surroundings – and with 50 lanes, more bowling — than any other place around town.

According to the Web site of the Memphis Area United States Bowling Congress, at one time, Imperial had “one of the finest sit-down restaurants in the entire city, complete with chefs, waitresses, and menu ordering. Many leagues had their end-of-year banquet there. The restaurant was closed in 1968 for a very odd reason — no parking. Imperial was so busy that, unless you got there early, you had to park in an adjoining lot or on Summer Avenue.”

In recent years, however, bowling alleys have added newfangled scoring machines and “cosmic” bowling using glow-in-the-dark pins and balls. Imperial had none of that; in fact, it didn’t even offer automatic scoring.

The bowling equipment will be auctioned off. There is no definite date for demolition.

For photos of Imperial Lanes in its heyday, and a tribute to a Memphis landmark, go here.

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